It’s all about the ferrets

As a story about plagiarism, the Cassie Edwards scandal hasn’t interested me much (beyond my agreeing that yes, lifting passages wholesale and uncredited from another writer’s work is both wrong and justly illegal). But when I realized this was a story about ferrets–and science writing–suddenly it became more interesting. 🙂

buymeaclue pointed me to this Newsweek article by Paul Tolme, the author of the ferret passage that was among the texts plagiarized by Cassie Edwards. I don’t know anything about Cassie Edwards, but Paul Tolme strikes me as a pretty competent science writer.

Because of course, what makes for good science writing is different from what makes for good romance–or any other fictional–dialogue.

Here’s Tolme’s original article, which was published by Defenders of Wildlife, a group dedicated to preserving imperiled species.

Towards the end of the Newsweek article, Tolme says, But there is another victim here that has been lost in the discussion: the ferrets. And in response Nora Roberts says that she will match, until January 31, the first $5000 in donations made by readers of the Smart Bitches blog.

There are worse outcomes for a plagiarism case.

I was going to stop there, but then I stumbled upon this: If you have a professional career, you have no business putting your husband on the phone to answer the hard questions for you. Behind the scenes you may well discuss matters with your spouse, but when a career-related call comes, it’s your job to answer that call yourself (or choose not to answer it, or defer it to your lawyer or agent, or whatever). Unless you’re either infirm or hard-of-hearing or your spouse is your lawyer or agent, there’s no real excuse for hiding behind a man–or anyone else–when dealing with professional matters. It undermines your credibility, if nothing else.

Which doesn’t have much to do with the ferrets, unless your husband is one. But then, you wouldn’t need to possibly lift other people’s passages about ferrets if he was, now, would you?

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